Do you ever just want to pack up and leave?

Emma Grey

Yesterday I met a man from a picturesque Irish village, who has a son and two teenage daughters (who have exactly the same names as my teenage daughters), who is looking to house-swap to Canberra with his wife.

Before my husband died, we were dreaming of a move to Ireland. I’ve never been, despite a strong Irish heritage, but Jeff loved the place. He’d begun talking with people about a position there and, since he died, there’s been a part of me that’s been longing to fulfil our dream.

“Just do it!” my friends chorused, when I told them of this chance meeting.

And I would, but … [insert a long list of reasons why now isn’t quite the right time to pack up everything we own and move to the other side of the world].

I have a friend who did just that, and it changed her life. She’d decided that, by her 30th birthday, no matter where she lived and worked, or who she was with, she would resign, sell up and move for two years to a country where they don’t speak English.

When the big day rolled around, she was of course ensconced in the job of her dreams, as Head of Drama at a large private school in Sydney, resourced to the hilt (which made for fabulous dramatic productions). But she knew she had to keep this promise to herself, so she went to bed, certain that she would wake up the next morning and know where she was meant to be.

The first word that popped into her head that morning was ‘Turkey’. Hmm. Turkey? Really? She switched on her computer and started researching drama schools in Istanbul. The first email she fired off read something like, “I’m moving to Turkey for two years, here’s my CV …”

The principal replied within an hour and a half. Within a couple of days, he’d created a new position for her, because he ‘couldn’t get her email out of his head’. It turned out it was the top drama school in the country.

The school in Sydney wouldn’t hold her job for two years, so she resigned, sold everything, and found herself in Immigration, unable to speak the language, knowing no-one, and wondering what on earth she had done …

Three weeks later, she met the Turkish man who became her husband and the father of her two children, with whom she now lives, around the corner from me — teaching my daughter drama at a Canberra school.

I thought of her, when the stars appeared to align to provide an opportunity to house-swap to Ireland, but my excuses started popping up. My daughter’s in Year 11. My little boy is still adapting to major change and needs the familiarity of his home and family. My mum has dementia. My musical is just getting off the ground …

I thought of my friend. Why can’t I Carpe Diem, the way she does?

I want this post to have a fairytale ending. I want to tell you I’m just going to do it. I think, in an unexpected way, this man and his very similar family to mine are a sign, or a reminder, of just how much I imagine making this happen. They’ve sparked the dream again.

So when my second daughter finishes school next year, when we happen upon another Irish family intent on living here, that will be it.

We’ll go. We’ll pack up and sell up and move without second-guessing whether it’s the ‘right time’ or what the impact will be on the people around us, because life is crazy short. Ireland is crazy gorgeous. And we’d be crazy not to …


Emma Grey

Emma Grey is the Canberra-based author of ‘Wits’ End Before Breakfast! Confessions of a Working Mum’ and ‘Unrequited: Girl Meets Boy Band’. She’s director of the life-balance consultancy, WorkLifeBliss and co-founder of a fresh approach to time-management, My 15 Minutes. She lives just over the ACT border with her two teen daughters and young son. More about the Author

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